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The Folktale
Stith Thompson

Motif K1011

Eye-remedy. Under pretence of curing eyesight the trickster blinds the dupe. (Often with a glowing mass thrust into the eye.) *Type 1135; *BP III 375; **Hackman Polyphemsage; *Herbert III 40ff.; Hervieux IV 204 No. 29; Icelandic: Boberg; Spanish Exempla: Keller; India: Thompson-Balys; Africa (Ibo, Nigeria): Basden 140.

Part Two

The Folktale from Ireland to India

III – The Simple Tale

1. Jests and Anecdotes

F. Escape by Deception

Thieves are by no means the only persons who effect deceptive escapes from punishment or death. Most of the popular tales of this kind concern the escape of a weak but clever animal. [309] In addition to these, however, and to the many escapes from tight places by heroes of the longer fairy tales, two adventures of this kind with human actors have achieved wide currency. The first is familiar through its treatment in the Odyssey. As a matter of fact, in the story of Polyphemus (Type 1137) there are two escape motifs. One of these is the ruse by which the hero assumes an equivocal name, like "Noman," and thus causes a misunderstanding when his captor calls for help (K602). Afterward, it will be remembered, Odysseus escapes by concealing himself under the belly of a huge ram (K603). All of this happens after the monster has been blinded through the pretense of healing his eye sight. In most versions of the tale a glowing mass of wood is thrust into his [p. 201] eye (K1011). This whole cycle has been thoroughly studied by Oskar Hackman, [310] who finds the tale in greater or less completeness scattered over most parts of Europe and Asia. Aside from its literary treatment in Homer, it is in the Arabian Nights and in the exemplary stories of the Dolopathos. This tale has apparently not been reported from Africa or the Americas.

One literary anecdote of escape from punishment well known in the folklore of the Baltic states and reported also from Russia and India, concerns a murder committed by a numskull, who buries the body and talks about it. [311] His brothers secretly substitute a goat for the buried body and thus save him from punishment when authorities investigate his story (K661.1; Type 1600).

[310] For such anecdotes, see p. 217, below.

[311] Polyphemsage.

[312] For similar stories of talkative fools, see pp. 189f., above.


1137, 1600


K602, K603, K661.1, K1011